Tag Archives: traditional mexican remedies

Natural Healing — Tomillo

Photo credit: Syrio Thymus vulgaris

The other day at the plant place, I came across a lovely thyme plant that I just had to have for my garden. As part of my introduction process, I had to do an intensive research session on medicinal properties. As my devoted reader, you too get to enjoy my obsession with plants in today’s post.

Tomillo (Thymus vulgaris) is native to Europe and therefore a plant brought to Mexico by the Spanish after the conquest. In Mexico, this is a culinary and medicinal herb. It’s used to flavor beans, calm a cough, and as a digestive aid.

It has antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anticancer properties. It has been shown to have beneficial immunomodulatory and potent smooth muscle relaxant effects, making it a good choice for treating respiratory ailments. It is also effective against several RNA viruses, including coronaviruses. Its antispastic effects on the intestine and antibacterial and antimicrobial properties also support its use as a digestive aid. 

It can also be used as a bioinsecticide. Studies have shown that it is toxic to larvae of insects that carry the dengue virus. It is an effective food preservative as it inhibits microbial growth.

Tomillo and Ajo Infusion for Hacking Cough

  • 1 tablespoon of tomillo leaves (Thymus vulgaris)
  • 1 ajo clove (Allium sativum)

Pour one cup of boiling water over the tomillo leaves and ajo. Allow it to steep for 15 minutes before straining. Add miel (honey) and limón (Citrus aurantifolia Swingle) to taste.

Tomillo Cough Expectorant

  • 2 parts gordolobo (Verbascum thapsiforme sdahere)
  • 1 part bugambilia morada (Bougainvillea glabra)
  • 1 part manzanilla (Matricaria chamomilla)
  • 1 part jamaica (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
  • 1 part tomillo (Thymus vulgaris)
  • Pinch of ground canela (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)

Pour a cup of boiling water over 2 spoonfuls of the mixture. Allow it to steep for 10 minutes. Strain and add a pinch of canela. Drink as needed to reduce excess phlegm.


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Natural Healing — Romero

Photo credit: David Stang

Romero (Rosmarinus officinalis / Salvia rosmarinus) came with the Spaniards to Mexico. It brought its traditional use of cleansing. During the Middle Ages, rosemary was burned in homes to keep the black plague from entering. It was also commonly believed to dispel negativity. Curadeneras adopted its use as a spiritual cleansing agent, burning it in corners as part of a limpia (cleansing) and added to amole (Agave vilmoriniana) to wash floors. 

Traditionally, romero is included in remedies for digestive disorders, colds, hair loss, headaches, rheumatism, and regularization of menstruation.

“Rosemary is for Remembrance.” Romero has been shown to improve memory by facilitating oxygen extraction during moments of high cognitive demand. It has antinociceptive, anti-apoptotic, anti-oxidant, and neuroprotective properties and shown to have noticeable effects on mood, learning, anxiety, and sleep. 

For migraines, add a sprig of fresh yerba buena (Mentha spicata) or spoonful of dried leaves and a pinch of fresh or dried romero leaves in a cup of boiling water. Romero has proven analgesic and neuropathic pain reduction effects resulting from modulating neuroinflammation.

To slow hair loss, 20 grams of flowers and leaves are added to 1 liter of alcohol and left to marinate for seven days. FIlter the resulting tincture and rub it on the scalp twice a day. Studies have shown that topical use does improve hair regrowth. A hair rinse to promote shine is made from romero, manzanilla (Matricaria recutita), caléndula (Calendula officinalis), and salvia (Salvia officinalis). Combine the herbs and steep in boiling water for 20 minutes. Strain. Use three heaping teaspoons in a pint of water to rinse hair after shampooing. Encino bark (Quercus) and romero leaves are combined for dandruff treatment. Three heaping teaspoons of the mixture are added to a pint of water and boiled. Then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Allow it to cool and strain before using. 

For colds with a stuffy nose, a pinch of leaves and stems are made into tea and drunk as needed. A rub for colds is made with 20 grams of fresh romero leaves, the juice from one limón (Citrus × aurantiifolia), and ¼ liter of alcohol. Allow it to steep for 24 hours. Strain and heat the tincture until it is warm. Use it as a rub twice a day until symptoms disappear. Romero has a stimulatory effect on the immune system and is antimicrobial. It also demonstrates antiviral potential against the HIV-1 virus, influenza, and coronaviruses. 

A tea for digestion is made with 2 grams of leaves added to ¼ liter of water and drunk before each meal. Another digestive tea calls for 5 to 10 grams of leaves in ½ liter of water drunk 3 times a day after meals. Romero relaxes the smooth muscles of the trachea and intestine providing a choleretic activity, making it useful in the treatment of spasmogenic disorders and peptic ulcers.

A tincture for rheumatism is made by steeping 20 grams of dried romero leaves, 20 grams of flores de alhucema (Lavandula) in ½ liter of water for three days. Strain and rub on affected areas. Romero’s anti-inflammatory properties can also be experienced by drinking it. Traditionally, a romero decoction is prescribed morning and evening to help with rheumatism.

To bring on delayed menstruation or regulate cycles, drink 3 cups a day of a tea made from 50 grams of romero in ½ liter of water. 

NOTE: Pregnant women should avoid any remedy that contains romero.


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Natural Healing — Pasiflora

Passiflora edulis

I’ve mentioned before the amazing relaxing tea blend I stumbled across that contained:

  • Jamaica (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
  • Flor de Azahar (citrus Aurantium)
  • Flor de Tila (Ternstroemia lineata)
  • Flor de Manita (Chiranthodendron pentadactylon)
  • Hojas de Naranjo (Citrus aurantium)
  • Melisa (Cedronella Mexicana)
  • Manzanilla (Matricaria chamomilla)
  • Pasiflora (Passiflora Ciliata) 
  • Hojas de Limón (citrus medica)
  • Yoloxochitl (Talauma Mexicana)
  • Rosa de Castilla (Rosa centifolia) 
  • Alhucema (Lavandula angustifolia) 

I’ve done some research on many of the ingredients and today I’d like to add to your knowledge about Pasiflora.

Pasiflora (Passionflower) was called coanenepilli (snake tongue) in Nahuatl because of the curvy membranous outgrowths’ resemblance. In Maya, this plant is known as Pochil or Kansel-ak. It was a traditional remedy for snakebites and fevers. When the Spanish missionaries arrived, they named this unique flower passionaria after the passion of Christ. In their eyes, the circle of membranes was representative of Christ’s crown of thorns. Dr. Nicholas Monardes called the plant granadilla in his book Joyfull Newes Out of the Newe Founde Worlde because the small fruit resembled granadas (pomegranates) in his view. He recorded a remedy that used the juice from these fruits to relieve stomach pains. 

There are more than 600 species of passiflora, most of which are found in Mexico, Central and South America. Believe it or not, there is even a stinking passion flower (Passiflora foetida) that catches insects in the hairs on its bracts to eat, making it a protocarnivorous plant. This plant has been shown to be useful in treating inflammatory disease

passiflora incarnata

The fringed passion flower (Passiflora ciliata) is the variety most often used in teas as a sedative. The purple passion fruit (Passiflora edulis) is often grown for its fruit called maracuyá which has proven health benefits including the prevention of diabetic related complications

In herbal remedies still used in Mexico, pasiflora is often included in treatments of insomnia, anxiety, and nervousness including opiate withdrawal. Studies have shown that Maypop (Passiflora incarnata) extracts are effective sleep inducers as well useful in the treatment of anxiety and depression. And researchers have confired that at least one variety, the giant granadilla (Passiflora quadrangularis), contains serotonin.

There have been reports of negative reactions to pasiflora such as nausea, tachycardia, and drowsiness, therefore care should be taken when using this plant, especially since so few varieties have been studied


Interested in natural remedies? Uncover herbal remedies from traditional Mexican sources for healing and wellness in the Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico series.

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